Risking Your Heart

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

–Proverbs 4:23

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”

–Neil Gaiman

The heart. It’s more than just an organ that pumps blood to and from the other parts of our body. In the Bible, the word is sometimes used to mean the mind or conscience. It is also:

  • the soul of man
  • the seat of the will
  • the source of passions (hate, love, anger, fury, etc.)
  • the source of emotions (courage, fear, grief, etc.)

Without an open heart, we are but animated shells. That is why we must protect and guard it. And why we must risk it.

It is in our hearts that we experience joy, happiness, and love. It is also in our hearts that we experience grief, pain, and heartache. When we feel a yearning to love, to help, to support, or to empathize with someone else, our heart is at work. By the same token, when we feel the urge to hate, to despise, to fear, or to grieve, the heart is also at work. The essence of life flows from the heart.

Think of the heart as a doorway. Terrible things and terrible people can enter our hearts to wreck and devastate. Glorious things and glorious people can enter to love and nourish. We must carefully watch what and who we allow in to our hearts.

Of course, the caretaking of the heart is not without risk. We could seal our hearts off like a stone rolled before a tomb allowing nothing in or out. But to live that way is to live as the walking dead. A shell and nothing more.

The heart must be guarded — not locked away. To love, to serve, to empathize, to be courageous is to put the heart at risk. But a heart that risks is a heart that has the opportunity to know love and joy.

How much are you willing to risk?

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one… Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

–C.S. Lewis